“Spiritus contra spiritum” literally translates to “spirit against spirit”. Loosely translated, it refers to “a spiritual experience to counter addiction to the spirits (alcoholism).” Spiritus in Latin means both alcoholic beverages, i.e., spirits, and the highest religious experience. In relating this simple phrase, Jung confirmed for Bill that the A.A. program aimed at spiritual development […]
“Spiritus contra spiritum” literally translates to “spirit against spirit”. Loosely translated, it refers to “a spiritual experience to counter addiction to the spirits (alcoholism).” Spiritus in Latin means both alcoholic beverages, i.e., spirits, and the highest religious experience. In relating this simple phrase, Jung confirmed for Bill that the A.A. program aimed at spiritual development and a spiritual awakening, as treatment for alcoholism, was the correct direction.
On January 23, 1961, Bill sent a letter of appreciation to Dr. Jung thanking him for his contribution to A.A.’s solution for alcoholism through his work with Rowland H. The Big Book refers to part of the story on pages 26 & 27. This letter, dated January 30, 1961, was Dr. Jung’s immediate reply.
Dear Mr. Wilson,
Your letter has been very welcome indeed.
I had no news from Rowland H. anymore and often wondered what has been his fate. Our conversation which he has adequately reported to you had an aspect of which he did not know. The reason that I could not tell him everything was that those days I had to be exceedingly careful of what I said. I had found out that I was misunderstood in every possible way. Thus I was very careful when I talked to Rowland H. But what I really thought about was the result of many experiences with men of his kind.
His craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God.*
How could one formulate such an insight in a language that is not misunderstood in our days?
The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding. You might be led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism. I see from your letter that Rowland H. has chosen the second way, which was, under the circumstances, obviously the best one.
I am strongly convinced that the evil principle prevailing in this world leads the unrecognized spiritual need into perdition, if it is not counteracted either by real religious insight or by the protective wall of human community. An ordinary man, not protected by an action from above and isolated in society, cannot resist the power of evil, which is called very aptly the Devil. But the use of such words arouses so many mistakes that one can only keep aloof from them as much as possible.
These are the reasons why I could not give a full and sufficient explanation to Rowland H., but I am risking it with you because I conclude from your very decent and honest letter that you have acquired a point of view above the misleading platitudes one usually hears about alcoholism.
You see, “alcohol” in Latin is “spiritus” and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.
Thanking you again for your kind letter
C. G. Jung
*As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.”(Psalms 42:1)
In my experience Step 1 was the hardest for me to come to terms with. Even before I started drinking it was necessary for me to perpetuate the illusion that I could control and handle my environment. Alcohol assisted me in following this delusion and had warped into my only solution to life’s problems. The […]
In my experience Step 1 was the hardest for me to come to terms with. Even before I started drinking it was necessary for me to perpetuate the illusion that I could control and handle my environment. Alcohol assisted me in following this delusion and had warped into my only solution to life’s problems. The idea that I could no longer control the one thing that had brought me so much relief or that I could not handle what my life had become was beyond frightening.
I hadn’t suffered many of the external consequences of drinking that I heard of in my first AA meeting. I excelled in my career, had my own place and hadn’t ever been arrested. I never considered that my bottom could be an emotional one. I rebelled against the notion that I couldn’t handle this and chose to go at it on my own. I’d hit a wall, pick myself up, then carry on as if nothing had happened. I lived in this cycle for many dark and pain filled years.
My alcoholism lead me to believe that my only problem was you and the rest of the world. If only I could manage this well then I could be happy. The more unbridled my drinking became and the more chaotic my life was the harder I tried to exert my will upon things. Still operating on old ideas, I was defiant to seek help. The only solution I could see was to make my world smaller. I took a position that allowed me to work from home and began to recede from any real contact with the people I cared about most. Slowly the gravity of not being able to master the world, you or even my own drinking sank in. Alcoholism had annihilated all the things I had once found pleasure in.
I was gifted a moment of clarity one night while crying alone in bed. I could see my life playing on the same way for the next 10 years as it had been for the last 10. The image of continuing on this path was bleak at best. Thoughts of ending my life were the strongest they had been in a long while. What struck me with fear most was that the will to fight them was no longer there. A voice of a friend, who had taken me to my first meeting, popped into my head and asked two simple questions: Are you still having fun? How much more do you want to dig?
At this time of desperation I was able to be a little more honest with myself as to the true state of my life. I was now willing to concede that I what I had been attempting to do wasn’t working and that perhaps those AA’s might be able to help. I am forever grateful to the fellow alcoholic who answered my call. In the past, I would have never imagined that an act of surrendering would be so empowering. I now see that a seed of hope was planted that night. The hope that what had worked for you could, just perhaps, work for me too.
“You need to know, you are in sudden danger of dying at any moment.” Not necessarily the words one wants to hear from his doctor, but there they were. The next thing I knew I was being rushed to Cedar Siani Medical Center in Los Angeles and promptly landed in their Cardiac Critical Care Unit. […]
“You need to know, you are in sudden danger of dying at any moment.” Not necessarily the words one wants to hear from his doctor, but there they were. The next thing I knew I was being rushed to Cedar Siani Medical Center in Los Angeles and promptly landed in their Cardiac Critical Care Unit. The feeling was surreal. There were all these specialists running around, poking and prodding me with various tubes, hooking me up to several monitors, taking countless blood samples, rushing things to the lab, and it was all so serious. The intake nurse came to my bedside and began to ask the basic questions: my name, where I lived, phone numbers, insurance, and then she asked me my birthday. I simply said, well if you do a really good job, I’ll be 43 next month. December 12th to be exact.
Then the attending doctor came in. He was quiet and pensive. He looked me right in the eye and said, “You need a heart transplant. And you need to get your affairs in order, as we don’t know if we can do the protocol in time to get you one.” Then turned and walked away.
Upon hearing those words, something extraordinary happened. I had a spiritual awakening. No big flash of light or burning bush mind you. It was clear, visceral and quiet. I became acutely aware that I was not my body. It’s important to note, this was not an intellectual assessment, it was simply my knowing. I distinctly thought, well if it’s time to go I am perfectly OK with it. I got that I was not this physical apparatus, with arms and legs and organs and skin and bones. I had this keen sense of knowing that I was an eternal spirit, that I was simply inhabiting those things temporarily.
And at the same time I recall thinking, well if I was to stay here on planet earth, I was OK with that too. I honestly wasn’t attached to either way. It’s like I became an observer of this drama that was playing out in the emergency room. I was filled with peace, a peace that was beyond anything I had ever felt before. It’s like when our book talks about being rocketed into the fourth dimension. Talk about freedom from bondage! My conscious contact was as though I had become one with this Infinite Intelligence, with my Higher Power. I don’t know how long I was in this euphoric state, but it lasted quite a while. And then I made a decision, that I was going to find a way to heal my heart.
It’s like when I walked into the rooms of AA and made a decision to get sober. I didn’t know how that was going to happen, but you told me all I had to be was willing, open and most importantly, honest.
So if it worked for one fatal disease, I decided to approach this in the exact, same way. The fact that it was my heart told me that something was off with my personal integrity. That I was not in alignment with my core values and therefore God. And in hind sight, I clearly had not been for a long, long time.
After 30 days in the hospital, with my trial medications and a pacemaker /defibulator firmly implanted, they sent me home to wait for my new heart. Over the next several months I began another rigorous moral inventory, one that rivaled my cardiac rehabilitation. I had to dig deep and see where I was not being honest with myself. I was in a relationship for over a year and a half which was very unhealthy, where I compromised my values. And my body was trying to get my attention. The anxiety, loss of energy, stress, unhappiness, frustration, etc. were all early signs that I had ignored. The irony that it was my heart that became sick had not escaped me.
This is a much bigger story than can be told in 650 words, but I will tell you this. Through the 4th Step inventory, I became very clear about my part. I realized I was not a victim of the circumstances. I took full responsibility for my actions, cleaned house (sound familiar), trusted God and kept going to my morning meetings.
Fast forward to my 9-month cardiac check up. The doctor sat me down and said the following: “ In my 28 years of being a cardiologist, I’ve never seen this. Not only do you not need a new heart, you no longer need your pacemaker. And quite frankly, I’ve never taken one out!”
Well, to the point, I did end up healing my heart. But I am under no illusion. I believe just like with recovery from alcoholism, it is a daily reprieve, based on my spiritual condition. I must continue to clean house, trust God and help others.
What an amazing and powerful program we have. It truly is a way of life. For Real!
Love, Joe : )
Greetings Salt Lake Central Office! Happy winter, hope you’re enjoying the freakishly warm weather. Probably by the time you read this we’ll be buried under feet of snow, but for now, I’ll enjoy not needing a winter coat.
Well, the elections for the Standing Committees are done, and we have a number of people who […]
Greetings Salt Lake Central Office! Happy winter, hope you’re enjoying the freakishly warm weather. Probably by the time you read this we’ll be buried under feet of snow, but for now, I’ll enjoy not needing a winter coat.
Well, the elections for the Standing Committees are done, and we have a number of people who have stepped up to the plate to keep reaching out to those who suffer. Pam H. will continue with Cooperation with Professional Community, Dave R. will continue with Corrections, Danny R. will continue coordinating the Hotline, Randy C. will continue with Treatment Facilities, Allison F. will be our new Literature Chair, Tim E. will be our new 12th Step Coordinator and Laura C. will be our new Public Information Chair. Thank you to all seven of you trusted servants for being willing to serve our community for the next two years. I look forward to watching the good things you accomplish.
The six positions that remain open are:
Activities – Coordinates our fellowship events, picnics, pot lucks and plain old whoopee parties. “Everybody knows that those in bad health, and those who seldom play, do not laugh much. So let each family play together…we are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous and free.”
Archives – Our historian. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Newsletter – Creates and distributes a monthly newsletter containing information such as calendar of events, Treasurer’s report, and other information.
Outreach – Helps keep communication flowing between groups that are not represented and the CO. Helps identify meetings that have gone dark, keeping the meeting schedule current. Facilitates the monthly All Groups meeting.
Volunteer – Recruits and schedules volunteers to staff the CO during operating hours and maintains a meeting schedule for the website and print distribution.
Website – Maintains CO’s website for members and individuals seeking information about A.A.
All of these positions have provided a vital, vibrant Central Office. The positions were created because the groups that make up the Central Office think they are necessary. It will up to you how the future of the Central Office evolves. What’s important to you?
In loving service,
December 15, 2014
Oh the holidays. “Festivus for the rest of us” stems from the show “Seinfeld”. George’s dad explains one Festivus tradition as “After Christmas dinner you gather all the family around and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year!” Oh, how my family loves doing that, only it’s not […]
Oh the holidays. “Festivus for the rest of us” stems from the show “Seinfeld”. George’s dad explains one Festivus tradition as “After Christmas dinner you gather all the family around and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year!” Oh, how my family loves doing that, only it’s not just the past year, it’s everything you have ever done wrong since the day you where born. I’m sure if your like me, you like to remind yourself of every way you have disappointed everyone you know in the past year.
Character defects and asking the God of our understanding to remove them are a big part of our sobriety and step work. I my self viewed my family as one big character defect, my Higher Power as not removed them. Of course, my Higher Power and I seem to have different ideas about what my character defects are and are not. Its a good thing. When I did my first 6th step and tried SO hard to be willing and ready to give up all my short comings I beat my self up pretty hard. At the same time, I realized that I seemed to be just as hard on the people in my life as I was on me. We are all human, everyone of us, and being imperfect is a part of it. Drinking always seemed to fool me into thinking that all my problems where not me; I was a victim. It was not my fault they do not understand me, I’m awesome. They are the jerks. Once I started to gain a little more sobriety and clarity through working this program, I realized I was not perfect, and I could not expect the people in my life to be perfect either. I could let go of my defects, but that also meant letting go of theirs as well. Spending any amount of time with them without drinking my self blind drunk and finding the purse that I’d puked the next day depended on it! So here it is, your guide to character defects, brought to you by someone wrought with them…but ok with it and letting them go one defect at a time.
Yep, you screwed up. A bunch. the secret is, look at it, own it and knock it off. People will bring it up. Over and over again. You do not have to react, because you know you are not that person anymore. Smile nod and accept. If you show that you let it go, they will too because they are not getting the reaction they anticipated. With that…oh my gosh! you have changed!
Everyone has them. Alcoholic or not. I’ve been told, I don’t know how many times “ The things people do that bug you the most are the same things you do.” This as been told to me by people with far more time in the program than me. Yeah right. I do not leave my car blinker on for six straight blocks while driving 25 miles and hour in a 40 mile and hour area, only to turn right instead. Then of course a few days later there I am, radio turned up singing my heart out and I look down. Crap: blinkers be going for the last ten minutes. Whoops. So I have learned that if I want the right to be mad at someone for leaving the blinker on, I better make sure its because its something I’ve never done. This has given me the ability to notice my own behavior and defects of character and not only forgive and correct my self, but give the same treatment to others. Disappointments are going to happen throughout life.
It’s up to you how you choose to let them go.
The first time I got drunk was at age 14, and for some reason I thought “I can control this and I can do this whenever I want for as long as I want” right off the bat. I tried to prove that that I could control it for about 37 years. Then came the […]
|The first time I got drunk was at age 14, and for some reason I thought “I can control this and I can do this whenever I want for as long as I want” right off the bat. I tried to prove that that I could control it for about 37 years. Then came the old story, like most alcoholics that are around the program tell – we know that after a while, we cross that line where we lose control. It’s a disease that is too powerful and it took over my life. Towards the end of my drinking, the next drink was the only thing I thought about. I could have one in my hand and I would be thinking about the next one.
I didn’t drink a lot after the age of 14 until I graduated high school. I was born in northern Utah and I was a Mormon farm kid. That made me feel like there was no way I could be an alcoholic. Drinking was hard to do where I grew up and you couldn’t get away with it because everyone knew your business. My alcoholism started to really show up when I came down to University of Utah and learned how to really drink. I related with a speaker tape I heard once stating that, “my blood alcohol level was higher than my grade point average when I was pretending to go to school.” I quit school of course, not being able to maintain that kind of discipline, and eventually got married at age 21. I married a woman whose father was an alcoholic that died from this disease at the age of 43. She didn’t drink but she sure put up with people who did. She lived with alcoholism her whole life, first with her father and then with me. We were married for 31 years and divorced when I got sober. We have three children, none of which caught the disease that I have. I have a couple of granddaughters that have never seen me drink. That has been a real blessing.
Through all the years of my alcoholism, I was a good pretender. I worked hard, not very successfully, but hard. Drinking was always involved and I lost two businesses, a home and other toys through drinking. I racked up a few DUI’s. Towards the end, I was regularly getting into trouble with the law, finances and all of that. In 1987, I was introduced to AA by a mental health counselor and she took me to my first meeting. I didn’t go to a lot of meetings; in fact, I believe I went to six meetings in the 18 months I stayed sober that first time around. I went back to work on a construction job but because I didn’t have any defense, I drank again. I tried to prove again that I could control my drinking and soon spiraled downhill.
The last three years of my drinking I lost everything: my marriage went on the rocks, I lost a business, I racked up more DUI’s. In December 1991, it got bad enough that I knew I had to do something. I was selling safe driver’s insurance and drinking every day. I got another DUI when I tried to sell insurance to an off-duty sheriff. That didn’t work very well; he recognized a drunk when he saw one. I started going to one meeting a week, still drinking every day. I would drink before the meeting and I would drink after the meeting. I drank every day in between for almost four months. Then I got another DUI and was looking at possible prison time. I got fired from a job and like a good alcoholic, I went to where people understood: Wendover. I funded this by cashing in some checks that I had forged my wife’s signature on.
About 2pm in Wendover, I had a moment of clarity, a rude awakening, or a spiritual experience – whatever it was I had, my world stopped. I was at a blackjack table and a voice came to me from inside that said “You need help. You are an alcoholic and you need help.” I knew then that I was done. I picked up the money I had at that moment and left Wendover. Funny enough, it turned out I left with exactly the amount of money that I had when I got there! As I headed back to Salt Lake, I was stopped by Highway Patrol and that was another DUI. This one would send me to prison, or so I thought. I went to jail in Tooele overnight and then 10 days later, I didn’t go to prison, I went to AA. My sobriety date is March 12, 1992.
I started to go to a little meeting called the Downtown Bunch and hang out at Fellowship Hall. After about 3 months I was starting to look for work again. One day I was standing by a bus stop and I saw an old friend that told me that I could work for him if I could stay sober. This is how I got back into the bowling business that I had been in for twenty years. We opened a shop called Rancho Lanes.
That Downtown Bunch eventually moved to Rancho Lanes when they needed a new spot. That group was very instrumental in my sobriety. I met and developed relationships with a bunch of old timers, retired pilots, lawyers and some street drunks. During this period, I started to get really involved with the Haven Treatment Center, going to meetings there every day. I currently have a home group which is the Nomadic Lunch Bunch; we meet five days a week, Monday through Friday at 12:15. We started that group at a bowling alley on North Temple and two other bowling alleys later, we are now at a different place, but for 22 years now, it has been my recovery meeting.
In the process of all these years, the one thing that I really did besides listening and meeting with a sponsor who got me grounded in the program is that I started to get active in service work. I took on jobs like chairing meetings, getting speakers for various meetings, and becoming the secretary for a meeting in the House of Hope when we had a speaker meeting there. I set up the room for my home group every day and got the coffee ready. I was the GSR for that meeting as well. 22 years later, I still ALWAYS have something going on between service among AA groups and volunteering at Central Office. I have sponsored people and been sponsored. For me, it is the only thing that works in the long term to help me stay sober and combat this disease.
I know there are many other ways to stay sober other than AA, but I don’t see other ways that build the friendships that we have here, friendships from all different walks of life. It was never unusual for me to sit in a meeting with an airline pilot, a celebrity, a professional athlete, lawyers, doctors, nurses, street people, drinking drunks, desperate people, and treatment center people. We would sit in a meeting and talk about alcoholism and recovery. It is incredible – an incredible experience that I get to have on a regular basis. It is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.
Another gift that I have gotten from sobriety is awareness: the ability to pay attention to life. I strongly recommend sobriety, especially for alcoholics and I recommend the fellowship. I try to be an example of recovery wherever I go. I am always available to help someone if they ask. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” This is what AA has done for me.
When most people hear Chapter 11, they think of bankruptcy. According to bankruptcy law, filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy puts an “automatic stay” on the actions of creditors. That stay provides a person or company with a new chance to prioritize their responsibilities and move forward. Chapter 11 in the Big Book, A Vision for […]
When most people hear Chapter 11, they think of bankruptcy. According to bankruptcy law, filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy puts an “automatic stay” on the actions of creditors. That stay provides a person or company with a new chance to prioritize their responsibilities and move forward. Chapter 11 in the Big Book, A Vision for You, provides a summary of a remarkably similar plan of action in the lives of alcoholics.
“For most normal folks, drinking means…release from care, boredom, and worry… But not so with us in those last days of heavy drinking…As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settle down”
Before I sobered up for good, I had spent almost ten years in and out of the program. Each time I drank again, I felt more and more isolated. Shame and guilt kept me from reaching out to my friends in recovery. My wife had long since disallowed me to drink at home, so I had to drink by myself in secret. Every day was shrouded in that chilling vapor. As I approached the jumping off place, I slowly shrugged off every connection I had to humanity. Every failed attempt at turning my life around weighed on me like a backpack full of stones. And when I finally reached the end, I found that I no longer wanted to live, but didn’t have the spiritual energy to end it all. I wasn’t actively suicidal, but I wouldn’t have minded an errant bus hitting me, either. So I did what I knew how to do; I turned back to Alcoholics Anonymous. When I did, I noticed a remarkable thing: I was experiencing meetings like it was brand new to me.
We go to these meetings and people seem normal. They smile, and laugh, and they look good. They have jobs, and cars, and houses; and we think, “I am not like these people.” Then they start telling their stories: tragic and horrifying stories — awful stories — stories like ours. And maybe someone gets up and tells a story of driving drunk. And they get pulled over. And the officer comes up to their car. The officer can see they’ve been drinking and tells them to step out of the car. But when they get out, they are too drunk, so they fall onto the ground at the officer’s feet… and then they throw up on the officer’s shoes.
For some strange reason, this story of humiliation strikes everybody as HILARIOUS. And they laugh. At horrible things like this, they laugh. And when somebody does an everyday thing like get insurance for their car or get their driver’s license, they applaud. And at first we don’t get it. We think, “What are these people laughing at? Why, exactly, are they clapping?” Then one day somebody gets up and tells our story. Some of the details are different, but it’s our story. They talk about missing births and disappointing their family. They talk about the pain and the loneliness. And we realize that we aren’t alone. These people, we think, have been where I have been. And it slowly dawns on us that these people seem normal. They are happy. They have been in the darkness that we are in and have found a way out. And if they have found a way out, they can show us the way out. And for the first time in months, if not years, we have hope. We are not alone, and hope is suddenly not lost. And so we keep coming back… I kept coming back.
“there is a substitute…It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous”
In the 2 years since I’ve come back, I’ve been reminded how important the fellowship is in my recovery. Of course working the 12 steps, the program, is imperative; but having friends to trudge the road with is also vital. They keep the loneliness at bay, and help me stay on the beam. Through their example, I learn how to register my car, pay my bills, and walk through life with dignity. Shame and isolation prevents action. Knowing I’m not alone gives me incentive and motivation to act towards a better life. The fellowship literally puts an “automatic stay” on the shame and fear to act, because I realize I’m not alone. Chapter 11 reminds me that, through spiritual bankruptcy, I am given a chance to live a life worth living; to be a man of substance. And for that, I am endlessly grateful.
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